am a huge fan of Korean cinema and television. I have managed to make a few like-minded friends online. There is one girl, in particular, with whom I share similar taste. I was at loose ends one day and asked her for some recommendations. She immediately told me that I had to watch “Head”. All I knew before watching the movie was that it was a comedic thriller, the lead was female, and she was kind of crazy. I wasn't worried that it would be a complete waste of my time, but I wasn't anticipating anything spectacular.
I loved it. Having watched “Charade” at an impressionable age, I'm already a fan of comedy thrillers. This movie took the comedy thriller idea to crazy new heights. Once the plot started moving along, it just did not stop. The movie had some of the weirdest comedic chase scenes I have ever seen. Never have I seen senile nursing home patients used to such good effect. The actress who plays the heroine takes the strong female to dizzying new heights. I am trying to get most of my friends to watch this and desperately wish it was available as a Region 1 DVD so I could more effectively share it.
The plot revolves around a plucky girl reporter and a severed head. She's a disgraced investigative reporter with a ne'er-do-well brother. When he gets himself embroiled in a dangerous situation, it's up to his big sister to save him. She's crazy and her brother is, well, stupid. In spite of this, they have a close relationship that adds poignancy and urgency to the plot. She uses all her skills and insanity to track down her brother in the clichèd, yet effective, race against time. In the end, it's her bad reputation, experience in the cutthroat media industry and wonderful cameraman that bring everything to a thrilling conclusion.
The weakest point of this film is also its strongest point. The insanity and crazy plot twists are not for everyone. The over-the-top characters that I loved could very easily turn someone else off of the genre entirely. If I were introducing someone to the genre, this would not be the film I'd do it with. “Charade” or “The Thin Man” are much better introductions to the genre. There are no Cary Grant or William Powell style heroes in this movie, and the heroine is almost as far as you can get from Audrey Hepburn or Myrna Loy.
The comedy thriller is a genre that has had far too few entries in the last few years, and this movie was, for me, a welcome addition. With Hollywood's obsession with high-tech extravaganzas, snappy dialogue and well-written villains have taken a bit of a back seat. The strong female characters required for a proper comedic thriller have too often been replaced by helpless damsels in distress. The dizzying and spectacular leaps the writers liked to make have been replaced by the predictable tropes. If the female lead does end up in distress in a proper comedic thriller, she is far from helpless. This is why some of my favourite female characters have come from comedic thrillers. A comedic thriller requires excellent dialogue to support the insane plot the writer has come up with.
One thing this movie has in common with the classics mentioned, aside from the obvious elements of humour and intrigue, is the plot twist. This movie hits you with plot twists at every turn, some of them you expect and some blindside you completely. The hardest part about writing a review for “Head” is those plot twists, because I have to avoid all mention of them if you are to watch this movie and enjoy it to the fullest. The other major element this movie has in common with the classics of yore is the strong heroine who just won't quit, no matter how much trouble it's going to get her in.
Another twist the movie throws in is integral to the plot, but is not a plot twist. “Head” takes the idea of the hero and heroine from what has become the predictable thriller, and turns it on its head. The male lead is the damsel in distress, and the female lead is leaping to the rescue. Bloodied and unbowed, this strong woman barrels her way through every obstacle, leaving chaos in her wake. Bruce Willis in heels, she takes whatever comes her way with a manic gleam in her eye.
The casting was wonderful, and the actors seemed to throw their all into every scene. The lead actress was convincing enough that I never want to get on her bad side. Since this movie is a comedy thriller, the writers were able get away with plot devices that would not work elsewhere. The only other genre that I could conceivably see using any of these plot twists is slasher films, and I don't think a slasher writer would ever include all of them. The sheer amount of energy and plot they managed to fit into one hundred minutes is extraordinary, the fact that they manage to keep it coherent and cohesive is a miracle.
If you're a fan of comedy thrillers, you will not get what you expect. If you're not a fan of comedy thrillers, do not expect any other film in this genre to be similar. “Charade” is the preeminent comedy thriller, with witty banter, a suave hero, twists around every corner and a charming heroine. “Head” is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum; with dialogue that makes you pause, a somewhat frightening heroine, twists around every corner and an inept and largely absent “hero”. This movie is an excellent hybrid of the over the top vibrancy of Korean cinema, and the dialogue and twists of old Hollywood's classic comedic thrillers and film noirs.